October 27, 2014

The Board and Wire at Sheridan's Cheesemongers

    I know that when one thinks "cheese" Ireland does not immediately spring to mind.  More likely you'll conjure up the image of a beret topped person tucking into a slice of creamy white Brie in France, or a massive bowl heaped with spaghetti and piled high with fluffy shaved Parmigiano Reggiano in Italy.  These countries are generally what most people think of when it comes to cheese in Europe.  Yes, there are many great cheese making nations (England, Switzerland, Spain, etc.) but my point still stands.  Ireland is vastly underrated when it comes to cheese.  
    Sheridan's Cheesemonger does seem to have quite the focus on Irish farmhouse cheeses.  I was only familiar with a fraction of what they offered in that range.  Sure there was the ever popular Cashel Blue, unctuous washed rind Gubbeen, and crunchy semi-firm Coolea.  Of course what intrigued me the most was the cheese that was completely new to me; Lavistown, Diliskus, and Glebe Brethan to name but a few.  I settled on purchasing a slice of the Glebe Brethan.  It was very alpine in style.  The texture reminding me of a very well aged Gruyere.  The flavors however were much more herbal, earthy, and extremely grassy.  Not quite with the nuttiness and cream of a true Gruyere.  Still I thoroughly enjoyed this cheese (sadly no photos survived my sudden case of blurry pictures).
   Sheridan's also had a well curated core list of quality European cheeses as well (which I mentioned some of in last weeks post). Which brings me to one of the main points of my visit to Sheridan's; raw milk Brie from France.  As an American Cheesemonger there are many types of cheese that I do not have access to due to the laws set down by the F.D.A.  Raw milk Brie, which is made from milk that has not been pasteurized, is illegal for sale in the U.S.A.  By law all cheese made from raw milk must be aged for more than 60 days.  Which is why you'll see some hard as well as blue cheeses made from raw milk in the States.
    Hence raw milk Brie was a sort of a Holy Grail for me.  Well, and for my fellow Cheesemongers, judging by the envious groans when I told them about finally getting to try A.O.C. protected Brie de Meux.  Yes, Brie de Meux is what I spotted in the case at the end of my previous post.  It really was everything I'd hoped for, wished for, dreamed about in finally getting to taste the real deal.  Its texture was silky and slightly fudge-y, turning to a slow, decadent ooze as it warmed up.  Classic flavors of butter, olive oil, herbs, and forest floor were heavy and well balanced.  I have to say not pasteurizing the heck out of milk really, truly makes a difference in the quality and flavor of the cheese.  This was probably one of the best parts of my time in Ireland.  
    Oh, and I may or may not have had tears of joy in my eyes as I reverently scooped spoonful after spoonful of that Brie de Meux onto pieces of warm, crusty bread.